While the European Union is yet to clear up some puzzle about Britain’s vote to leave, the African Union is chasing a road of greater continental integration via the introduction of Common passports in Africa that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states.
The common passports, which can be accessed through the use of electronic devices, will be made public on AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, this July where they will be given to presidents and senior officials.
The Union says it is hoping to make the all-Africa passport get to all African citizens by 2018. This, it says, will enhance free movements of persons, goods, and services around the continent.
It will also give rise to intra-Africa trade, integration and socio-economic development.
AU has always considered freedom of movement very highly, as enshrined in previous agreements such as the 1991 Abuja Treaty.
Common passports have already been adopted for several regions, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
More Open Doors:
As of yet, only 13 African states allow all African citizens without advance visas, while others place strong restrictions on travel. But with the common passports scheme in Africa, movements around the continent will be on the lighter side.
AU Director for Political Affairs Dr. Khabele Matlosa believes opening borders will have a significant effect for workers at the lower end of the scale. According to the Director for Political Affairs, Dr. Khabele Matlosa, it will reduce the risk of African youths struggling to travel to Europe on boasts.
“We have a problem now that young people are risking their lives to cross the Sahara Desert or travel on boats to Europe. If we open opportunities in Africa we reduce that risk.”
He however admits that meeting the target of providing the passports to all citizens by 2018 is not feasible, noting it may take several years before it circulates.
The African Development Bank had, in its recent report, advised that making entrance requirements easy would support economic growth. It cited the case of Rwanda, which saw GDP and tourism revenues climb after abolishing visas. This seems to bring the years-long proposed concept of United States of Africa by the 54 sovereign states on the African continent even closer.